By Anjuli Patil, CBC News
March 23, 2016
Nova Scotia Power’s competitors will still need to pay the utility to use its grid. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)
Nova Scotia Power may soon face competition from renewable energy companies.
The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board set the stage for Nova Scotians to choose their power provider the same way they pick their internet company.
Legislation in 2013 forced Nova Scotia Power to share the market. On Wednesday the UARB set guidelines on how that will work for Nova Scotia Power.
John Merrick, a consumer advocate, says news of competition is huge for power customers.
“I think that Nova Scotia is seeing the dawn today of a new energy marketplace which, in the long term if it works, is going to be a benefit to us,” said Merrick.
“Because our future for stability and low rates is going to depend on us having the ability to obtain our energy from a number of sources,” he said.
Nova Scotia Power still benefits
All the power renewable energy companies create will still need to be delivered through Nova Scotia Power’s grid.
Nova Scotia Power needs to figure out how and how much it will charge its competitor to use its infrastructure.
Companies like SWEB Development, which sells wind energy, celebrated after the UARB struck down some significant “tariffs” or tolls for using the grid Nova Scotia Power wanted to charge.
For these companies, using the grid will still be about half the cost of doing business.
“It’s significant. Roughly half of the cost that we will incur for providing power will be associated with the grid and Nova Scotia Power infrastructure,” said Dan Roscoe, chief operating officer of SWEB Development.
“We think the majority of that is legitimate and the part that we’re not necessarily happy to pay is for their existing assets that are no longer being used — that we’re replacing,” said Roscoe.
If Nova Scotia Power loses more customers, that means it won’t need as many generating stations. These are capital assets that are now devalued and companies like SWEB will need to compensate Nova Scotia Power for them.
How much Nova Scotia Power wants to charge new competing companies will be presented to the UARB in April.